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Israel orders release of Palestinian journalist from administrative detention

Sept. 27, 2016 8:22 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2016 1:13 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma’an) -- An Israeli court decided to release Palestinian journalist Musab Zayoud from administrative detention on Tuesday, according to Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Saleh Ayoub.

Ayoub said in a statement that Zayoud, from the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin, was released on Tuesday, following deliberations between the Israeli prosecution and and Zayoud’s defense team.

Zayoud was detained in on Sep. 20, during massive raids across the occupied Palestinian territory when 40 other Palestinians were detained and two Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli fire.

The detainees included one other resident of Jenin. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an at the time one of them was an alleged Hamas operative, without specifying which.

Upon Zayoud’s detention, an Israeli court ordered him to 11 days in jail to complete an investigation into undisclosed offenses, and denied him lawyer visitation. However, he was released after spending seven days in Israeli custody.

Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without disclosing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

During his detention, Zayoud took part in a one-day hunger strike among 23 other incarcerated Palestinian journalists on Monday to mark the Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists, amid an intense crackdown by Israel on media organizations and journalists in the occupied territory.

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer has denounced the crackdown for routinely designating media outlets affiliated with Palestinian political parties as terrorist organizations.

“The practical implication of these broadly-defined offenses is the criminalization of many aspects of Palestinian civic life,” Addameer stated.

In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians, including journalists, for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by "incitement."

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

Israel recently blocked the Facebook accounts of scores of Palestinian journalists, which followed an agreement between several Israeli ministers and Facebook to censor content that Israel deemed as “incitement.”

The Committee to Support Palestinian Journalists said in April that Israel had detained 43 journalists in the occupied Palestinian territory, including two foreign reporters, in the six months since October 2015.

According to Palestinian press freedoms watchdog MADA, the month of August saw the highest number of violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory since the beginning of the year.

In August, MADA had also reported that Israeli violations against media freedoms in the occupied Palestinian territory had continued to rise at a rapid pace over the first half of 2016, even after the group reported an “unprecedented” increase in violations throughout 2015.

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